Transhumanity, like it or not? (was: Prince Charles gets nervous)

Jeff Bone jbone at
Mon Apr 28 15:59:48 PDT 2003

On Monday, Apr 28, 2003, at 13:47 US/Central, Tom wrote:

> Devils advocate here, reminds me of the whole smoker/non smoker thing.
> Where do the rights of the smoker begin and end etc etc. Can we have a
> TransHumanist world where humans can not have be "trans"ed, or will it
> simply be on large Trans club where the nontrans are ostracized, 
> ridiculed
> and worse yet made into some PETA <> Animal relationship.

I'm not sure you're really being a Devil's Advocate, here.  This is, 
probably, inevitable in a free world.

There are three options:

(1)  There are no transhumans;  the fearful effectively prevent it from 
happening. (--> extinction)
(2)  There are some transhumans and some pristine humans;  everything 
is voluntary.
(3)  Everybody goes transhuman, like it or not, dragged into it by the 
first transhumans.

(2) is the free option.  (1) supposes the fearful / conservatives 
suppress the pro-transhuman crowd, and thereby spoil the party for 
everybody.  It is actually the most equivalent scenario to the 
smoke-Nazi situation you see in the U.S. these days, conservative 
ideology crushing freedom.  (3) is perhaps even scarier than (1) to 
anybody that really values freedom --- from this vantage point, it 
seems more like Crusades-style sword-point conversion.

IMHO, neither (1) nor (3) is acceptable.  But I recognized that my 
prejudice against (3) may be unfairly and unconstructively biased, what 
with me being merely human today. ;-)

> Also, nothing and no one has proven that Transhuman is a good thing 
> because
> simply put you can not prove or disprove it. Your running on your own
> ideology and (wait for it) faith.

And that's exactly the point.  But perhaps it can be put more clearly:  
the idea that "death" is a necessarily "good" thing is a highly 
personal value judgment, and a rather bizarre one at that --- probably 
based on very "religious" (and other evol. psyc.) motivations and a 
whole slew of other built-in and questionable assumptions.  You can't 
argue with that in general, so instead you have to appeal to the basic 
idea that, while individual mortality is perhaps a questionable good, 
species extinction is an unqualified bad *and* avoiding it requires 
re-examining individual mortality, if even obliquely.

> I still think the Eli's of the movement will win out and it will become
> this "For your own good you have to be a borg" style thing. Why? 
> Because
> power corrupts.

Well, if the question is "borg or nothing" --- what do you choose?

> "In todays news, the gov has issued a new recall for their DRM cortex
> implants that were mandated last month. Reports of memory loss and
> subversion of will have prompted the investigation. "

While certainly not attempting to argue for Eli, I'll just say that the 
tech to do all this probably doesn't "get to market" in a manner that 
gives any particular commercial or gov't motivated group much time to 
let the power corrupt.  Almost certainly the Singularity will initiate 
in-the-small, and happen so quickly that it avoids this problem...  at 
least, it avoids it as long as you assume that the first transhumans 
are sufficiently ethically advanced to make the "best" judgments.  
I.e., the technology and the transition itself may drive its own 
ethics, which I'm willing to assume are sufficiently different from / 
beyond anything we can discuss as to be essentially incomprehensible.

The current-human decision-making process is highly tuned to operations 
where the state space is sparsely populated and mostly 
uninvestigated...  the first real post-change transhumans will most 
likely be able to both populate their decision spaces more thoroughly 
*and* explore them more completely in much shorter order.  One hopes 
this in general leads to better decisions.  And if they decide that the 
forced-entry scenario (3) is the "better" option, well then, who are we 
to argue?


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